Ma'an News Agency
November 4, 2010 - 12:00am

The first case of smuggling goods from settlements into West Bank shops was filed in a Bethlehem court Wednesday, in a move that will test a new Palestinian Authority law prohibiting the sale of such products.

Although customs officers have patrolled West Bank shops and detained several people since the law went into effect over the summer, the case of the Bethlehem merchant will be the first to see the inside of a courtroom.

Passed in an effort to institutionalize a boycott of settlement-made products, and simultaneously boost the market for Palestinian-made goods, the law had vocal popular support and was initially enforced on a voluntary basis.

The accused, who police say was caught bringing wood products manufactured in a settlement into Bethlehem, was indicted by the court, which decided to keep the man in custody until the trial was completed. He was not identified.

Captain Amin Aqil, director of the Bethlehem customs office, told Ma’an that the merchant was detained on his way to Bethlehem on the Al-Ubaydieh road. The accused will state his plea in the coming week, and he is expected to mount a defense.

The law was signed by President Mahmoud Abbas on 28 May, making trade in settlement goods a criminal offense.

Abbas' legal advisor Hasan Al-Ouri was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA at the time as saying the regulations would target "the cancers found in the Palestinian body, which target the Palestinian people's humanity, soil, and fate."


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